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394

morning, before he had fully defined himself In conscious-
ness. He woke, that morning, and saw the shaft of sunlight
striking through the window, the green bluffside beyond, and
the rough boards of the wall. And at the instant when he
identified those objects, his mind seemed to say to him, You
are lying here, looking at those things, because Professor Ball
killed that man.

Then it seemed impossible.

Then he was sure of it, as sure as if he had stood to watch
Professor Ball, that morning, mount the darkened stairway
and push open the unlocked door and, finding the office
empty, stand there in the middle of the floor. Across the
square, back of the courthouse, the men had been moving,
Turpin and the deputies. And there in the corner of the
office, the rifle had stood. And there on the shelf of the
bookcase, behind the cracked glass, had been the cartridge
box. And it had been done, all of it, in an instant. Near
forty yards, Mr. Munn thought, near forty yards, and he
probably hadn't fired a gun since he was a boy. Out there,
in the courthouse yard, Turpin had reeled and fallen on the
grass with that hole over his left ear—Mr. Campbell had said
that, over the ear—and as though unseeingly, Professor Ball
had stood the rifle back in its corner, and had walked out,
pulling the door shut behind him, and had gone down the
back stairs.

It was perfectly clear to Mr. Munn how it had happened.
And how Professor Ball had moved down the alley, erectly,
almost somnambulantly, his white, club-like bandages hang-
ing out from under the black sleeves, and all the while the
awareness of his act gradually growing within him. When
the force of it struck him, and he understood the full context
he must have intended to go to the hotel and see Cordelia
and his other daughters—but especially Cordelia—and tell
them good-bye and give himself up. Or had anything been
so precise and clear to him then, as he moved down that
deserted alley and the sounds of the street reached him
unheeded? Mr. Munn was not sure. Perhaps, as he moved